TUNIS: A Tunisian mother has been given a suspended jail sentence for hurling racist insults at a teacher who threw her daughter out of class. Campaigners hailed Monday's judgment by the court in Tunisia's second city Sfax as the first under a new anti-racism law approved by parliament last October. The woman, who had spent several days in custody awaiting trial, was handed a suspended jail sentence of five months and a 400 dinar (130 euro) fine, court spokesman Mourad Turki said on Tuesday.

Three months and 300 dinars of the sentence were for the racist nature of the abuse, while the rest was for insulting a state employee. The court heard that the mother, who had rushed to school after receiving a phone call from her daughter to say she was being expelled for her behavior, had insulted the teacher over the color of his skin. Under the law passed by parliament on October 9, offenders can be jailed for up to one year and fined 1,000 dinars ($350, 300 euros) for making racist insults.

Incitement to hatred, making racist threats, spreading and advocating racism, and belonging to an organization that supports discrimination are punishable by one to three years in prison and carry fines of up to 3,000 dinars. Tunisia has a significant black minority whose ancestry goes back to the days of the slave trade. Slavery was abolished in the North African country when it was a beylik, or vassal of the Ottoman empire, in 1846. But rights groups say the minority remains subject to routine discrimination and report periodic assaults against black Tunisians and sub-Saharan migrants singled out for the color of their skin.- AFP